PARIS (AFP) – A surprise hire by Club Brugge in December, former England midfielder Scott Parker is preparing to coach in the Champions League for the first time as the Belgian side take on Benfica in the last 16.
Parker, 42, had been out of work since being sacked by Bournemouth in August following a 9-0 defeat to Liverpool and his criticism of the Premier League club’s approach in the transfer market.
“Stepping in as head coach halfway through the season means you want to see what you want to change quickly,” Parker said at his unveiling.
“There is no doubt we can be successful with this team. It’s now up to me to stimulate this and keep going.”
Despite qualifying from the Champions League group stage for the first time, the Belgian champions have struggled domestically this season and sit a distant fourth – 20 points behind leaders Genk.
Brugge have won just once in seven games under Parker, who spent the entirety of his playing career in England before retiring in 2017 and promptly turning to coaching.
After a season with Tottenham’s under-18s, he rejoined Fulham to serve as an assistant to former boss Slavisa Jokanovic and then Claudio Ranieri after the Serb was dismissed.
Parker was thrust into a caretaker role once Ranieri was axed and Fulham were relegated from the top flight at the end of the 2018-19 season.